photo: Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines — Slow internet speeds in the country which drew the ire of the common folk up to the President have seen gradual improvement since the lockdowns started, and are actually returning to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.
According to data shared by Speedtest by Ookla on its website, internet speeds plummeted as the health crisis forced the government to implement a stay-at-home policy.
As an example, average download speeds for fixed broadband was at 30.77 megabits per second (Mbps) and for mobile data, at 16.68 Mbps last February 24. But after the enhanced community quarantine was placed over Luzon and other areas, it dipped to 20.40 Mbps for fixed broadband and 13.95 for mobile data.
Download speeds for this year were at its lowest from March 30 to April 6, when fixed broadband speeds were just at 20.52 Mbps to 20.47 Mbps; and mobile data at 11.93 Mbps to 11.95 Mbps.
But as of July 13, fixed broadband is now back at 26.70 Mbps, and mobile data at 17.24 Mbps.
Ookla said that they are monitoring the global impact of the pandemic — as stay-at-home rules mean more time on gadgets and on the internet which consume data — on the performance of network providers.
“Ookla is closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the performance and quality of global mobile and broadband internet networks. We will share regular information based on Ookla data in this article that may assist in the understanding of this unprecedented situation,” the company said.
In terms of year-on-year improvement, the Philippines’ internet speeds actually improved by 216.94 percent for fixed broadband and 127.82 for mobile broadband from July 2016 to July 2020.
Back in 2016, Ookla recorded average download speeds of 7.91 Mbps for fixed broadband, and 7.44 Mbps for mobile data — far from current numbers that the country is enjoying.
But despite the improvements, President Rodrigo Duterte has warned the local telecommunication players that they may face expropriation if the internet connectivity does not improve before 2020 ends.
As the country reels from the effects of the pandemic, schools are forced to shift to online classes and distance learning methods — one hindrance to which is a slow internet connection.
Last June, photos of teachers camping by the road in Davao de Oro went viral, as they explained that they were staying in that area to find a good mobile connection. These problems experienced by teachers and students have prompted youth groups to question the government’s preparedness in handling the online classes.
Vice President Leni Robredo suggested that internet hubs be placed in every barangay to ensure that students attending online classes would have access to quality education. [ac]